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 Post subject: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 1999 12:17 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 63
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
I am your typical 'bun-head'.<BR>The little girl that was taken to ballet class staring at the age of 5, and who blossomed into a classical dancer.<BR>Where should I begin if I wish to explore modern dance (from an audience point of view; not a dancer's perspective?) <BR>I am located in the SF Bay Area, so I guess that's good for a start! <P>I know that I am shocking Azlan and Michael and maybe Lucy, but please invite me to a show! I feel that being the year 2000 and all, I shouldn't be dwelling on Petipa's memory any longer.<P>Cygnet.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 1999 1:49 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 23, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 243
Location: Miami, FL USA
Cygnet<P>I was damaged by countless terrible outings by low end companies or college kids trying to be provocative that I wrote off modern dance for quite some time. As I said in another thread, I often left performances with the thought "Am I stupid and didn't get it ... or did it IN FACT suck?"<P>I was transformed by Parson and Mark Morris to begin with. That's my story.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 1999 3:21 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
If you're interested in exploring modern, I would recommend the following to your (in terms of groups that are more "accessible"):<BR>David Parsons and Mark Morris (as mentioned earlier), Twyla Tharp, Oberlin Dance Collective (San Francisco group), Alvin Ailey, Hubbard STreet/Chicago, (they are considered "jazz", but do works by many modern choreographers ), Pilobolus, Momix, hmmm..that should give you a good sampling.To start out with, I would avoid any college groups, as they are often not as professional or "polished", ie., they might not give you a "positive" experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 1999 7:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
trina, did you leave out Paul Taylor on purpose? I find his works the most accessible to ballet fans as he tends to be literal and he likes using classical music. Isn't that why several of his works are regularly performed by ballet companies.<P>Cygnet, as trina mentioned, ODC/SF is a good SF-based company for introduction into modern dance. They are performing the Velveteen Rabbit still, I think.<P>Azlan


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 1999 7:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Of the US cmpanies who have been a hit in the Uk in recent years, there is also the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Bill T Jones and White Oak Project, the latter having the additional bonus of Baryshnikov. Doug Elkins has his supporters, but I found it got rather samey after a while. La La La Human steps also suffer in this respect in my view, but the dancers are very good.<P>Of the European companies who tour the States, any of the Nederlands Dans Theater Companies or Rambert Dance Company have high, consistent standards and also have work available on video. Not forgetting Ballett Frankfurt - are they a ballet company or a modern company? Who cares, they are simply one of the best dance companies anywhere in the world.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 1999 7:06 am 
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Location: Citizen of the Globe!
Good Morning Cygnet! Image <P>I am new to this board, but find your question a good one. Being somewhat of a professional ‘audience member’ within the dance realm <I>(although I was a professional performer for many years)</I>, I would suggest you begin your journey into modern dance through those senses which are not your primary conduits. Meaning, instead of focusing on the dance itself, I believe you’d experience much more of the complete spectrum of modern dance through the choreographers and THEIR message/or background (not merely the companies), the music, the rhythms, the settings (performance art style vs. traditional staging), costumes, stories, ethnic origins (musically AND choreographically), and geographic locations. By using your mind to learn about the dance styles and choreographers, using your ears to find those sounds, music, and rhythmic styles which ‘turn on’ your own creative juices, and using your eyes & soul to fully experience those performances which speak to the Cygnet deep in your Polatis soul … I’d imagine you’ll find that which you seek.<P>I give Stewart Sweeney the thumbs up on the companies he’s mentioned! (again, from an audience perspective). Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Bill T. Jones, and Elisa Monte (is she still around?) are great. Ron Brown’s Evidence Dance Company, The White Oak Project, Ballet Frankfurt, and Complexions (Dwight Rhoden, ex-Ailey, & Desmond Richardson, ex-Ailey & Frankfurt B.) represent what I’d consider a few of THE GREAT modern dance companies primarily because the companies are comprised of <I>(dare I say)</I> <B>THE consummate athletes, artists, and soulful dancers of our time</B>. I’ve seen them all and remember a performance of Ballet Frankfurt in Paris that was flippin’ incredible. In retrospect, I can only defer to the awe-inspiring moments of a performance of Cirque-du-Soleil for comparable grace, beauty, introspection, frightening feats, and momentary transportation of the soul to another realm, as a comparable ‘experience’. My votes are for Complexions and Evidence, because I recognize the sheer artistry and devotion to every facet of a performance, but then, I am biased … Image ) Whatever your choices, i encourage you to consider the exploration a journey & embrace the unfamiliar and the unknown.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited August 09, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 1999 7:11 am 
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Rats,<P>I forgot to mention Ballet Philadanco, Kansas City Dance, and ... hmmm, can't remember the co. name but their from Carracas, Venezuela. <P>p.s. sorry about the html codes ... i'm new :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 1999 8:16 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 23, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: Miami, FL USA
I couldn't agree more with the list given, particularly Complexion (Desmond is fantastic!). Without gaining the wrath of other posters, I have always been disappointed with White Oak. Perhaps I had expectations that I did not have with other companies.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 1999 9:40 am 
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Image ) I think we all had expectations of Misha ... after all, his predecessor was Nureyev and them is some <I>biiiig</I> tights to fill, on various artistic levels. I honestly have not seen nor heard much from White Oak since friends left the company a couple years ago. Sharing links on recent work would be greatly appreciated.<P>As for D&D, we agree Shag … they're both magnificent!! Desmond's body <I>alone</I> is a glorious work of art when at rest. Once Dwight gets a mind animate ...<BR> Image the likes of Michaelangelo's David well, gosh … What’s not to like?!<BR><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited August 09, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 1999 2:02 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
Azlan-<BR>Azlan-Sorry,yes, it was an oversight to leave out Paul Taylor--how could I? shameshame! He's one of my all time faves! However I must honestly say that I really do miss the Taylor company of the 70's and 80's--David Parsons, the incomparable and irreplaceable Christopher Gillis (sadly deceased, brother of Margie), Ruth Andrien, Eileen Cropley, Ruth Andrien, Nicholas Gunn, Lila York--they all were unique individuals and unique dancers, on whom, I believe, Taylor created his best works!


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 1999 6:58 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Princess TamTam, thank you for your insightful response. Unlike Cygnet, I am not a dancer but, like her, I started my appreciation of dance from within ballet and then branched out to modern dance and other forms of dance. What you said about trying to appreciate the bigger picture instead of the actual techniques and steps rings true for me -- I found myself entertained as soon as I stepped back, so to speak, and enjoyed the production as a whole.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 1999 10:00 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 109
Location: El Granada, California, USA
Cygnet, do you know the name of the Caracas modern group that Princess Tam Tam referred to?<P>This subject of meaning and modern dance came up last night when a few of us got together in Berkeley, California to see Mark Morris' Hard Nut. Lucy remarked that the idea of looking for meaning in a dance was unfamiliar to her. As a ballet dancer, she sees a performance in terms of the dance itself and how she would dance it, rather than looking for meaning. This corresponds to Princess Tam Tam's opinion about not focusing on modern dance itself, but instead looking at the choreography as a whole. <P>Maybe Lucy can elaborate on her view for us, if she can forget about the Hard Nut for a moment. After the performance, her greatest regret in life was that she had not spent her career as one of Morris' snowflakes or flowers.<P>I have to agree completely with Trina about avoiding college groups. The first real life dance performance I ever saw was a modern work by an Ivy League college group. I had no experiential point of reference, but the performance struck me as pretty bad, for both the choreography and dancing. It was like listening to music played badly; even if you're not a musician, it still sounds wrong. I don't remember the first professional modern company I saw perform, but I never forgot that college group.<P>Because modern choreography is often abstract expression, it is possible to read up on modern choreographers to get a context of what they're about before you see a performance. Having grown up in mostly rural New England, I had only seen professional dance on TV and read about it. When I lived in Boston, my musician housemate once returned from a gig in NY with a Merce Cunningham dancer. I was able to talk with her a little about the work of modern dance companies such as Pilobolus, although I'd never seen any of them perform. <P>There's an inexpensive little paperback titled "The Vision of Modern Dance" that might help. It consists of brief excerpts of writings by choreographers from Isadora Duncan through post-modernists that traces their thinking and the evolution of the art. It also has an extensive bibliography and videography if you want to pursue the subject further. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 12-19-1999).]

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Michael Phelan, BayDance.com


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 1999 9:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Great post, Michael. If you recall, the discussion on the dance vs non-dance perspective started when I remarked that Duato's message got muddled in his choreography for Rassemblement to which one of the dancers responded, startled, "There was a message?!" It didn't even occur to this dancer that there was a message! I thought that was really funny. Of course, I didn't know most of the techniques that were used in the choreography. What a contrasting gulf between dancer and non-dancer audiences!


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 1999 1:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
Another good book to read about dance is "Inside Dance" by Murray Louis. It is a series of essays which disucuss various aspects of modern dance performance. The whole philosophy of the book is to view dance "from the inside" ie the perspective of the dancer/choreographer, and try to make it understandable, and accesible to the non-dancer. One of my favorite books, very entertaining, pithy and poignant. Murray Louis is an American modern choreographer, collabortor with the late Alwin Nikolais, artistic descendants of Hanya Holm/Mary Wigman German tradition of abstract modern (for lack of better terminology at the moment)


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me understand
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 1999 9:40 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
trina, thanks for the recommendation. That's another book I have to add to my holiday reading. BTW, what do you think of Gay Cheney's "Basic Concepts in Modern Dance -- A Creative Approach"? I find it fascinating but I don't know if it's for everyone.


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